(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
Defense Media Activity – Hawaii
HONOLULU – Service members, civilians and veterans gathered for a candlelight ceremony held May 25 on the eve of Memorial Day at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) to honor all American prisoners of war and those missing in action (MIA).
Three hundred and fifty motorcycle riders also attended as Hawaii’s version of Rolling Thunder XXV.
According to the Rolling Thunder Inc. official website, the organization consists of both old and young, men and women, united in the cause to bring full accountability for POWs and those still MIA.
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Irwin K. Cockett was the keynote speaker for the event and said that the commemoration was a time to remember those lost on both sides during the Vietnam War.
“On this the eve of Memorial Day, it is fitting that we gather along with our Vietnamese community leaders to pay homage to the fallen comrades of both our countries,” Cockett said. “They may be far removed in time but not in memory.”
Cockett said that remembering what the missing and fallen sacrificed during that war is a way to honor their memory.
“Tonight our hearts remain heavy for our MIA comrades,” Cockett said. “It is for us to remember the noble cause we fought for so many years ago on the battlefields of Southeast Asia.”
Those in attendance were able to listen to a performance given by the Marine Forces Pacific Band, hear a cultural song from the Vietnamese VNTV ohana choir, and see a dance done by Thai-Hang Phan called “He Hawaii Au.”
At the end of the ceremony, attendees lit candles and laid wreaths to give their respects to those who served.